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French Open: win over Samantha Stosur (AUS) in semifinals

4th June, 2009

Moderator: Questions in English, please.

Q: You're the only person to beat Dinara on clay this season. What did you do right in that match, and is it something you can execute on a stage like this again?

Svetlana: Well, now it's hard for me to think about Dinara, because the match was tough and I just thinking about recovery. She's looking to this final. She's going to be favorite to win. She's No. 1. She played an unbelievable season. She beat me last time we played. It was in Rome. But there is some points I can work on and think positive for myself. First of all, that I beat her, as you said, in Stuttgart. It was indoor, but still, she can play very well in indoor. I have to move her around definitely. But I have just to work my game.

Q: How tired are you?

Svetlana: I'm a little bit tired. But, you know, it's a lot of nerves and emotions. I'll be fine. Tomorrow I have day off, so it's great. You have to play two matches, so long two days in a row. I'm all right. I'm tired for now, but I'm gonna be sleeping and gonna be good tomorrow.

Q: I know you prefer to win two and one as often as you can, but you seem to have special talent for dramatic matches.

Svetlana: I don't know. If I look back into the match, I was 4-2 up,serving 30-Love, and I did double fault. Then they told me I had two or three more this game, I don't remember. But anyway, I was just playing the match and I lost this serve. But then in tiebreak, I think Sam just played so good rallies, you know. She risked and she made it. I give her credit for this. I think I stayed tough in the second set, so then I won the third set. You know, I still kept playing, not giving up. It was very tough, because I had 5‑2 or something in the second set.

Q: Do you ever have pity for your coach watching the roller coaster go up and down?

Svetlana: Yeah, I thank my coach, Larisa, so much, because she stays all match positive. Doesn't matter what happens, she just stays calm. It's okay. Play, play. To me it's important. I can't stand when people make me nervous, say, How you do this? How you do that? I say, Guys, just go and play yourself if you want to do better (laughter.) It's very important for me. She supports me all the way, and it's really great.

Q: Have you been surprised by Sam's performance, especially on clay?

Svetlana: I seen her already this year. She had such a great match against Serena in Sydney. She was just two, three match balls she had. She been playing great, so I expected very tough match. She serves great. I mean, I been playing ball from the second floor up here. It was not very comfortable. I had to play two meters behind. After the match, in the gym I spoke with her coach. He says, I see you play much more inside of the court than you used to play. I said, Well, I did in indoor, but today I still had to stay one meter behind even more, because the spin which Sam puts on the ball is really difficult.

Q: How much are matches like Serena yesterday and then today against Sam fun and enjoyable, and how much of it is stressful and emotional and you feel all tied up inside?

Svetlana: The most difficult is after having chances, not winning them in the second set, putting everything in the third set. This is the most difficult,because I think I had chance and I didn't finish it. The opponent is getting tougher and tougher, because you let them come back in the match and they start to believe in it and they start to play better. This is the hardest thing emotionally. But. But then, I really enjoy playing this match. Even the crowd was not from my side. They were supporting I think Sam more. I don't know why. It was tough. I enjoy it. I enjoy having long rallies, putting lots of spin, playing different ball. I really love doing this, and this is a pleasure which is my job and also it's my passion.

Q: So against Dinara, I think you've played her 13 times. Can you go out there against someone you know very well and enjoy it, or is it because it's a Grand Slam final, everything is business, stress, emotions, competition?

Svetlana: You know, definitely going to be stress, definitely going to be emotion, definitely going to be business. Everything. I will still try to put it away and just go out. Why should I change? Every match should be the same, even first round or last round, you know. This last match has got to be the same. Going to be my passion, anyway. I'm going to play. I'm not going to change for the final. Well, I will try not to change, you know. Just go out there and play my best. I have nothing to lose out there.

Q: When you won the US Open at 19, you could kind of say you were a little bit unconscious and you have been in Grand Slam finals after that maybe with maybe more awareness. So as you come into another final, what do you need to do to make sure that you perform at your peak level?

Svetlana: Just what I said before: just go out there and enjoy it, you know. Maybe it's very simple to say. You say, well, it's enjoy, enjoy, whatever,you know. But lately the finals which I played I was not enjoying that much. Well, except like Stuttgart I won. But I was thinking too much about everything. Lately here, these matches, even semis, quarters, it still was a little bit getting to my mind, but I didn't let it in. So I was just enjoying. With Serena was such great rallies, and today also. It's great for me even to win today. I have not played on Philippe Chatrier yet,so it was very important match for me today to win it. I still try to have fun and enjoy. Some rallies were great. The same for the final.

Q: The key to controlling your nerves is just enjoying it, like you're enjoying the match?

Svetlana: Yeah, you're like teasing me. You know, like you enjoy. You're stupid. You enjoy. (laughter.) I mean, I really want to go out there and do my best and just play. Well, to control my nerves, I have to loose up and just play my game. In the end of day, just a game, right?

Q: On French television, Tatiana Golovin said that the key to Saturday's final was going to be your ability to recover physically. Your foot maybe. What do you intend to do about that?

Svetlana: I don't think I'm that tired to recover two days. I'm tough on myself, you know. Today my feet was not -- the one I twisted yesterday, it was not bothering me at all. My problem was the blister. It was huge blister. After they put me the tape, I had since third game I started to feel it. When I start to feel it, it was huge, so I had to re tape it. And I'm fine, you know. It's more mentally going to be -- it's going to be tough, but, you know, let's go out and have fun and see what happens.

Q: What do you think about when you think back to when you first came on the tour and you were playing doubles with Martina? When you think back to the young woman you were then, what do you think about?

Svetlana: I would think how come she could handle me? I was so difficult. I was so -- maybe -- no, I would not -- if you tell me to go back and do all over the same, I don't want to do this. You know, I've done it as I've done it, and I'm fine with that. But I was so late all the time. I was not organized that much. I was flying out in my head somewhere. It was so new. When you come first on the tour, you're like, Oh, wow. It's a tournament. It's great. I don't know. It's one small city and first time you're so motivated. Then you come over one year, two, three, four, and the fifth you start, hmm, I'm bored already, you know, because it all comes the same. I enjoyed playing a lot with Martina.

Q: You as a person then?

Svetlana: I don't know. The same. The same as I am now.

Q: It's plenty of players from this part of the world, from Russia. In the beginning of the draw, there was plenty of players in there. Did you expect a final step would be between two Russians?

Svetlana: Well, when I -- I don't -- when draw came out, I didn't see the draw. I never -- I asked everybody around me, never tell me the draw, because I don't want to know this. I don't want to care about the finals, semifinals, quarterfinals. I just want to care about the match I'm playing at the moment. But some people have always to show off and tell me, Well, you have a good draw. I don't care what draw I have. I just have to fight and play. But then I found out that Dinara plays one day and I play another day, it was small in my head that we can make it. We have a have a chance to make it to the finals. I think we both played one of the best claycourt seasons.

Q: My question is not an original one, but can you talk about secrets, about so many players from...

Svetlana: This question is driving me nuts. You want me to go here for an hour explaining what I think all over again.

Q: No, just one word.

Svetlana: Well, I believe it's just tough mentality and hard situation we went through after we grown up in Russia, because we didn't have possibilities to play. Not sponsors, nothing. I remember myself hitting in the balloon, you know, balloon on clay without hitting, you know. It was zero degrees and you had to practice, because you had no other chance because you cannot afford it. Sometimes you travel and you share bedroom with people you don't even know. These things make you work harder, you know. You go to the juniors tournaments, you go from America and they have unbelievable Nike deals. You beat them maybe easy,and you still don't have anything. The same now, you know. Russian players, we don't get such good deals as other players, because they say we don't have marketing in Russia. But anyway, you know, we're tough and we're making it, you know. Every time there is Russian in tournaments, they say, Oh, Russian final again. We need somebody else. We need some American. We need somebody else. They try to bring, but we still go and we still fight and the girls that win Olympics, we go all the time forward. Doesn't matter what they say. We just try to do our best.

Q: You talked yesterday in a moving way about the role of the war, and yet Russian tennis didn't really emerge, if I have it correct, until the fall of the Soviet Union and Anna coming out and so forth. Could you talk about that aspect, please?

Svetlana: Yeah, it was not that many Russian players playing well. As you said, it was Soviet Union, and they would not let us out -- not me, but like Olga Morozova. She was my coach at the start of the season, and I been hearing stories about this. They would not let out Soviet Union. They would control the deals they have. They would take all the money. It's a bit communism, like in China. So the tennis still was big, but first of all, they didn't let them go out of the Russia and USSR back then. It was tough to show something, to compete with players when other players compete and they grow up in the level, and they could not. So after, they were still tough. They were still trying, and it was high level they were playing tennis. After they were allowed to travel, then some guys like Chesnokova, they went to the States and signed some first contracts. It was very difficult situation back then, but they were still pushing and they pull it through because maybe it would be the same till today.

Q: Just briefly, is it an incredible accomplishment by Sharapova that she's both a star in Russia and the U.S.?

Svetlana: I give credit to Maria. It's great. You know, but I think if you turn back and you see about tennis popularity in Russia, it would be first by Yeltsin, because he put a lot. He was big in politics, and he pushed a lot tennis in Russia. He got all diplomatic people and around people, people around president to play tennis. So people came. They put money into tennis, some money. Then Kournikova made it big. Doesn't matter people don't like her. Doesn't matter that they say she never won a tournament. I still think she did amazing effort. They made such a big deal about her not winning a tournament. For me, she was top 10 player. She played semis I think of Wimbledon. She was very tough. She was No.1, I think, in doubles. She had an unbelievable achievement. She was very popular and she could do the same thing on court and off the court. It's a lot credit for her for doing this for Russian tennis. And then it's became Maria, Kafelnikov, these old guys that they were big, Safin. This all pulled tennis forward and forward. Maria, she has great credit because she very popular and she was No. 1. So everybody did something for Russia. So we're pulling it forward.

Q: Is the toughness that you talk about why hip hop with its toughness appeals to you?

Svetlana: Excuse me?

Q: Hip hop music.

Svetlana: Hip hop? (laughter.)

Well, I don't know. If I start to talk about African culture, it's very tough for those guys. But I cannot come from USSR now to Africa. We're going to talk too much politics, and I'm not political. I'm trying to just hit this yellow ball over the net. (laughter.) Yes, well, for me, it has nothing actually, hip hop with toughness.

Q: Well,it's kind of a raw, tough sound, and there's often a lot of very tough issues.

Svetlana: Yeah, some lyrics unbelievable, yeah.

Q: What is your preferred warm up song at the moment?

Svetlana: I don't listen to tough stuff. I listen to some happy stuff, because I'm not going to court to die. I'm just going to have fun. Sometimes -- I try to listen something hard, you know, this and that, and I go on the court, and I'm like -- I want to be happy. I want to have fun. (laughter.) I want to make another people watching me have fun. So I'm just trying to have some beats, some nice songs. But if you want to listen for some tough lyrics and never give up, you listen to No Matter What of TI, and this is unbelievable song.

Q: You had a rather long bathroom break. Can you tell us why that took so long?

Svetlana: No, everybody tell me that I take so long, but I swear I just go into the locker room, I take my shoes, my socks, my skirt, my top, my shirt off, and I put all another, the same again on top. This is it, and I comeback. This is all I do. I'm not spending time sitting there and thinking about something. Not rushing, but this is what I've done.

Q: Just you and Dinara go back a long way. Can you just talk about when you first met her? You're the same age.

Svetlana: Oh, yeah. This story goes way back. I was like 12 or 13, and Dinara was unbelievable girl. She's one year younger than me. I had no chance playing against her. I remember I lose to her 6-1,6-Love or something, but it was no chance. I used to be girl from St. Petersburg, she was Moscow and her mom is huge coach who been coaching her. I mean, she was No. 1, No.2, always great. I don't even know what number I had. But then I talk to her. I said, Dinara, do you remember something? She goes -- or whatever. We talk about it. She says, Yeah, I remember you coming with rock shirt, because I was big fan of the rock band and with big bottle of Coke to the match. It's fun, you know. She tells me back then this is what she remembers. She was very good then, and then her brother was huge. I was coming to Marat, Hey, I know your sister Dinara. Can you give me autograph? You know, it was funny. Then when we wanted to move to Spain. My parents decided that they want to move somewhere, so we called mom of Dinara and asked her to help us to go maybe to Valencia, because it was the only people we knew. She goes, Yeah, well, this is the number. But we call and it was closed, so we went to another academy. But it's always been rivalry even she was good, but then I started to play better. So it was always ups and downs. Yeah, it's huge. It's in the back, back, back.

Q: You played with Dinara the final at Rome. She won.

Svetlana: And you're Italian. (laughter.)

Q: I want to know if it will affect the way to play...

Svetlana: I'm not German, but I won in Stuttgart, also. (laughter.) Well, it's 1-1. It's even on clay, right? So I try to think about it. I think it's a new match. It's completely different day. Doesn't even matter if I won 15 times before or she won 15 times before. It's a completely new day. Everything could be different.


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